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Last Updated: Monday, 16 April 2007, 08:07 GMT 09:07 UK
Mass-market chocolate goes upmarket
By Anthony Reuben
Business Reporter, BBC News

Bournville Deeply Dark
Deeply Dark is supposed to appeal to those who prefer milk chocolate

Hershey's has done it, Woolworths has done it and now Cadbury's is doing it too.

They are all moving into upmarket, dark chocolate.

In 2006, Woolworths' sales of dark chocolate more than doubled from the previous year.

Earlier this year Hershey's, the biggest US chocolate maker, announced plans to cut 1,500 jobs as part of a restructuring programme designed to allow investment in higher-margin products, especially premium dark chocolate.

Now, Cadbury's is launching a new version of its century-old Bournville dark chocolate.

The current recipe for Bournville contains 36% cocoa solids. The new Deeply Dark version will have 60%.

Revolution of dark chocolate

"The recipe for Bournville Classic was the ideal dark chocolate 100 years ago and it still has a strong group who love the taste and have grown up with it," says Magali Barreyat-Baron, brand manager for Deeply Dark.

"What we're doing is trying to keep the brand that the English public love but try to take it with us into the next century and the next revolution of dark chocolate."

But the company says it has formulated the chocolate to suit the palate of the British public that is more used to milk chocolate.

The verdict in an - admittedly entirely unscientific - straw poll suggests that Cadbury's has succeeded in its aim.

Among a handful of volunteer tasters, people who do not usually go for dark chocolate were enthusiastic about it - but those who generally prefer dark were not as impressed.

Hershey plant
Hershey's recently bought three premium chocolate plants

Sara Jayne Stanes, Chairman of the Academy of Chocolate agrees that overcoming the British palate is a challenge.

"Unfortunately, 98% of the population has grown up on chocolate confectionery with loads of sugar and not much cocoa," she says.

Too much vegetable fat

But she is cautiously optimistic about the new brand.

"I see it as a good thing," she says. "I hope it means that more people will start to understand chocolate."

Manufacturers in other European countries have traditionally been scathing of British chocolate for containing too little cocoa and too much vegetable fat.

Having made its first foray into high-cocoa chocolate with the acquisition of Green & Black's in 2005, Cadbury's now sees the move into higher-cocoa chocolate as part of a trend towards products that are closer to their continental equivalents.

"Everybody in this country is awakening to what dark chocolate can offer in terms of taste experience, in terms of benefit for you, and is learning to appreciate it the way we've learned to appreciate wine and coffee alongside what we've been consuming for the past decades," Magali Barreyat-Baron says.

To get a dark chocolate enthusiast's verdict, the BBC asked Martin Christy, editor of the chocolate connoisseur's website seventypercent.com, to taste the new bar.

He is not very impressed.

"I found it quite rank at first and after about 20 seconds you can taste the flavourings - it's like eating compost or wet wood," he says.

"Then there's a metallic aftertaste, which is like putting a battery on your tongue.

"I don't think it compares favourably with supermarket brands at the same sort of price or, ironically, Green & Black's."

Cadbury confirms plans to split
15 Mar 07 |  Business
Hershey plans to cut 1,500 jobs
15 Feb 07 |  Business

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